February 20, 2014

Outbrain

Put the brakes on your uplifting-content startup! The firm Outbrain found in two studies that headlines with “negative superlatives” vastly outperformed those with positive words:

Compared with headlines that contained neither positive (“always” or “best”) nor negative (“never” or “worst”) superlatives, headlines with positive superlatives performed 29% worse and headlines with negative superlatives performed 30% better. The average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives was a staggering 63% higher than that of their positive counterparts.

But…why? “Whereas positive superlatives may have become clichéd through overuse, negative superlatives may be more unexpected and intriguing,” Alex Bennett writes in just the most depressing, soul-destroying, heartbreaking blog post you’ll read all day.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
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